This very ancient and historic method of ornamenting metal produced some remarkable examples of craftsmanship, and the many pieces of work shown in the British Museum of Saracenic and Persian origin should be well studied, so that an idea of the possibilities of this kind of work may be obtained. Metal can be inlaid with metal, or with coloured wax, or with coloured stones or gems, or with enamel. Damascening, niello, and Bidri work are forms of inlaying. As for example the Celtic finger plate Ch. vii, Fig. 5 (10), instead of being raised as shown, could have the same design worked out with two parallel strips or threads of copper. When inlaying ware only a groove need be cut with chisel shaped and held as shown in Fig. 15. The wire is annealed and placed in the groove; then the edges of the groove are hammered down on to the wire, the work is planished up from the back and the face finished off as required. The Tudor plate on p. 78, instead of having the rose embossed could have a plate of copper inlaid to the outside shape, and the other lines giving the form could be engraved on the copper plate after it was inlaid. The stars in the memorial tablet illustrated in Ch. xii are of silver inlaid, and show up well against the rich coloured copper.
When wax is to be inlaid the design is cut away, leaving a wall of metal all round, and the wax, which should be of brittle character, is powdered fine and the cells filled with it, then the object is warmed so that the wax melts and fills in the design. This operation is repeated until the cells are filled; the plate is then cleaned up with pumice stone, or Water-of-Ayr stone, and polished. The memorial tablet shown in Ch. xii has been done in this manner. Fusible metal could also be used in the same manner.
Fig. 15.-Method of holding an engraving chisel.
Though this is a method of decorating metals it really comes under the finishing or preserving of metal surfaces. See chapter on"Finishing Metal Objects,p. 177.